Hong Kong's jockeys and trainers were yesterday asked by the Jockey Club to take a 10 per cent pay cut next season to help combat falling turnover. The Club's Racing Committee has approved a move under which a trainer's percentage of prizemoney will drop from 10 to 9 per cent for all horses, and a jockey's share of the stake money will fall from 10 to 9 per cent for wins and 5 to 4.5 per cent for minor placings. Each trainer's monthly fee from the Jockey Club will be slashed from $16,690 to $8,300 and a jockey's fee per race ride will drop from $1,090 to $1,000 per mount. Jockey Club officials held separate meetings with jockeys and trainers yesterday to explain the pay cuts. 'In light of the decline in betting, we have looked at improving cost efficiency,' said Jockey Club director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'Our vision continues to be world-class racing and betting, and we were reluctant to reduce prizemoney. 'We will not make a profit from this, but we have to address our fall in income. From three seasons ago, prizemoney is up by $183 million and the incomes of jockeys and trainers have risen significantly. We are asking them to share some of this. 'We have already asked owners to contribute $40,000 to the retirement costs of horses from 2004-05, so we were looking to assist them without raising our training subsidies which are already $80 million a year.' He said increased returns from stakes would benefit owners by $11.5 million and more than compensate for proposed increases in entry fees (from 0.2 per cent of the stake to 0.3 per cent) and a $500 user fee to be charged each time a Club jockey is booked for one of the 8,300 rides available in a season. 'This is due to a dramatic rise in use of Club jockeys, for whom we provide costs,' said Engelbrecht-Bresges, adding this was not a deliberate inducement to encourage retained riders. 'In a comparison of costs, Club jockeys will still make better sense and this approach was preferred to increasing livery charges.' He said the Club was trying to find a balance in the system. 'We are reviewing salaries throughout the Club and have asked trainers especially to work with us in increasing productivity in stables,' he said. 'I believe there was a good understanding at the meetings of the overall situation.' Champion jockey Douglas Whyte said jockeys had few grounds for complaint: 'It certainly came as a surprise and nobody likes a pay cut, but the Club wouldn't be doing this unless there was no alternative. All along, they have given to us and now the whole economy is a bit tighter, it's time for us to give a bit back. Hong Kong is still the best place to race in the world and I don't think this will have any huge effect on the jockeys.' Shane Dye said: 'It's disappointing and anyone who says they are happy about it is lying, but what can you do? People either stay and cop it or they leave. It looks like the owners will benefit greatly, the Club will benefit and those benefits will be paid for by the jockeys and trainers.' Champion trainer John Size leads the money race this season with a record $74.4 million and was typically circumspect: 'The way the economy has gone over the past five years, everyone has had to tighten up and today it was our turn. I don't want to think of how much it might cost me based on this year's earnings.' David Hayes, second in prizemoney won, had similar views: 'Times are tough, we have to accept it and when you listen to Winfried put it into perspective, you understand why the Club is doing this. If someone is very unhappy, they can always leave. 'To the trainers winning the big prizemoney - John Size, Ivan Allan and myself - it amounts to a good sum of money. In my case, that 10 per cent means about $600,000-700,000 next season, but I could end up taking a cut double that because generally a good season is followed by a lesser one,' Hayes said.